A special school board meeting was held on Tuesday, September 25, 1973, to discuss the demands of the district’s bus drivers, a largely black and female group of unionized city workers who had recently called in sick en masse.
A strike by the bus drivers would not have been a legally protected job action, so they had all phoned in sick, causing a large-scale disruption of the ferrying of students to and from their schools.
The bus drivers’ protest was meant to draw attention to two issues — first, the unequal distribution of hours allotted to the drivers as a pool; and second, to an underlying issue of wage inequality. The largely black and female bus drivers discovered that the drivers for maintenance, who were predominantly white and male, received more pay. They decided to object in a way that made the School Board have to negotiate with them.